Black History MonthArt exhibitions at TSU Libraries

Romare Bearden, The Family, etching, 1975 from the Thompson-Wilson Collection. (Image courtesy of TSU)
Romare Bearden, The Family, etching, 1975 from the Thompson-Wilson Collection. (Image courtesy of TSU)

By Cass Teague

This month, the libraries on both campuses of Tennessee State University will continue separate exhibitions with Black History Month themes. The art is available for view at no cost during regular library hours.

A LEGACY REMEMBERED – The Thompson-Wilson Collection at TSU Main Campus Library

Back in 1978 Dorothy T. Wilson, a 1942 Tennessee State University graduate, was retiring from teaching as a Health and Physical Education Teacher Specialist. She had worked for more than 30 years teaching Junior High and Senior High, and needed a hobby She found that collecting art became her passion. Her son Lamar was curating art shows in the Washington, D.C. area, and she decided to get in on the action.

“Lamar when you buy one, get two,” she would say, and she would buy the second one. That’s how she developed her Romare Bearden Collection. Dorothy also supported local artists Joe Holston and John Nelson in Washington, D.C.

Over the last forty years the Wilsons have shared these collections in more than a dozen major public and university collections and museums, including the Parthenon Galleries in Nashville, the Spellman College Museum, Fisk University, and Long Island University.

More than collecting, Dorothy has always enjoyed talking to new collectors and artists about her adventures and art with her son Lamar, her co-curator. In her home, she has some 400 holdings of fine art posters, prints and memorabilia. Now in her late nineties, Dorothy doesn’t collect much anymore. Mrs. Wilson now primarily enjoys admiring her treasures and reliving her experiences with family and friends. An opening reception and gallery talk is scheduled for February 15, from 12 Noon until 2 pm.

In His Presence… (What Would Bring A King to Town?) by Thaxton Waters at TSU Downtown Library

The title of this body of work stems from the many visits Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spent in Nashville, TN (1960, ’62, ’64, and ‘67), ranging from speaking against the Kennedy Administration and bettering city race relations at Vanderbilt Symposiums, to gaining inspiration for his next strategic steps from local demonstrators. King, upon hearing and reading national news about the terrorism happening to Nashville’s Black residents, made multiple appearances here, while establishing strong local connections.

Thaxton Waters (photo: Metro Arts)
[/media-credit] Thaxton Waters

After touring, teaching, and talking, he witnessed that our city was ‘ground-zero’ for silent organized marches, skilled non-violent training of the students, and a plethora of intellectual activism. Famously, while giving a speech at Fisk University, he said  “I came to Nashville not to bring inspiration, but to gain inspiration from the great movement that has taken place in this community.”

About the pieces in his exhibition, Waters says, “The color palette chosen and prices set are prophetic in nature revolving around Biblical themes of sacrifice, purification, and redemption. I was once told ‘It is no shame in being the slave, the shame is in the slave master.’ With that quote in mind the gold paint highlights yet masks the heroic figures as they were being tried in the fire, while leaving the perpetrators of the injustices in full view.”

This article originally appeared in the Nashville Pride

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